While things are not always easy in the business world, I can’t fathom what it would be like to make a living in politics. It’s fascinating as the presidential election nears to observe the lengths candidates and parties will go to in an effort to persuade voters to their platforms. Each election cycle, the methods seem to get louder and more outrageous, with listening and consensus-building a thing of the past. Can’t we all just get along and work for a common good? What’s stopping progress to that end? Recently I found a few articles that do a great job of explaining what’s going on. Interesting reading, whether you’re politically inclined or not.
- “Most arguments about politics never seem to get anywhere.” This lead sentence from How to argue better, according to science addresses the question of why intelligent, passionate people are rarely effective in convincing others to their point of view. It turns out that passion is not enough. Our moral foundations run strong and deep, and it’s difficult to move someone off a position that is congruent. This article does an excellent job of describing the moral foundations of the two major parties, and how arguments could be reframed to appeal to those of differing opinions. One timely example is regarding gun control.
- The Key to Political Persuasion echoes the same theme: “In business, everyone knows that if you want to persuade people to make a deal with you, you have to focus on what they value, not what you do.” The authors also see reframing messages as the solution, but it needs to be more than a parlor game to be successful: “Maybe reframing political arguments in terms of your audience’s morality should be viewed less as an exercise in targeted, strategic persuasion, and more as an exercise in real, substantive perspective taking.” Interesting results are reported from experiments on same-sex marriage, increased military spending and making English the official language of the U.S.
- NPR asks Is Arguing With Passion The Most Effective Way To Persuade Opponents? Nope. Reframing (again) is the solution. This brief article also gives the examples of gay marriage and English as the country’s official language.
Reframing can certainly be applied in the business arena. Too often we argue from our expert or authoritative position. How often do we think about the audiences we are trying to address and carefully articulate a rationale that more closely maps to their underlying concerns or perspective?
It’s challenging and takes time, but I believe would be more effective in the end.
“I’ve trained all my life not to be distracted by distractions.” —Nik Wallenda, daredevil, seventh-generation member of the Flying Wallenda’s Family
When my daughters were in high school, I looked on in amazement as they studied. They’d have music playing and/or the television on while responding to the never-ending buzz of social media notifications. This didn’t stop them from finishing a paper or studying for a test, and their good grades showed this method worked for them.
I can’t imagine settling down to work with so many distractions. Is it a question of age? A quick Google search locates many articles that confirm that as we age, our ability to filter distractions decreases.
Likely just as significant is one’s definition of a “distraction.” The background noise of a coffee shop, for example, doesn’t bother me at all. The gentle mix of music, other people’s conversations, and the familiar sound of the coffee grinder or espresso machine blend together in a pleasant cacophony.
From time to time I need quiet and dark to filter out distractions. On other occasions, looking out a window and noticing weather, nature, and general goings-on can bring focus. Driving is another opportunity to control and shape the environment. Loud music, National Public Radio, or quiet thoughts with a stack of post-it notes at the ready can each be therapeutic in their own way. Other times it’s just heads down into the computer or forcing myself to apply extra concentration to a phone conversation or conference call. Mindfulness techniques that keep me in the moment can be a great help.
I’m curious what filters others use to keep out unwanted distractions. What are the characteristics of environments that hinder your focus? What are the conditions that foster productivity?
When I recently took inventory of my to-read list, I was surprised to find that I haven’t ordered a physical book since August. Meanwhile, my e-reader is getting a little overwhelmed. Here’s what is loaded up—we’ll see how much progress I make while on vacation this week. The titles below all have links to their Kindle versions.
Design Thinking: Business Innovation by MJV Press
143 Visuals To Inspire You to Take Action by Scott Torrance and Mirka Volakova
Leadership BS: Fixing Workplaces and Careers One Truth at a Time by Jeffrey Pfeffer
24 Hour Mindfulness: How to be calmer and kinder in the midst of it all by Rohan Gunatillake
Leading Continuous Change: Navigating Churn in the Real World by Bill Pasmore
Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl
Team Genius: The New Science of High-Performing Organizations by Rich Karlgaard and Michael S. Malone